One year after Bernard Madoff’s arrest on Dec. 11, 2008, the victims of his $65 Ponzi scheme are fighting to find their feet.
“Some of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and some have considered suicide,” said Jerry Reisman, an attorney representing 27 victims.
Only 1,647 victims have received money through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which was created by Congress to protect investors whose brokers go bust and is funded by brokerage houses.
But the SIPC has a $500,000 maximum advance payout, nowhere near the $170 million some of his clients have lost. Approved claimants can also get a portion of any assets that the court appointed trustee is able to recover.
“I’m not sitting around waiting for any money,” said Bette Greenfield, who lost her retirement savings and is frightened for her future. “I have to move on. The money is gone.”
The collapse of Madoff’s imaginary empire of investments left Ronnie Sue Ambrosino and her husband stranded in their RV in Arizona. They had already sold their home. After Madoff stole their life savings, accumulated over three decades of work, they couldn’t afford a tank of gas.
“I’ve spent the last 12 months trying to define my new life,” Ambrosino said.
Madoff’s attorney Ira Sorking said yesterday that his client “is doing fine.”
“He knows he’s going to die in prison,” Sorking said. “He deeply, deeply regrets all the pain and suffering he’s caused.”